How do you go about exchanging goods you have purchased from a store?
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God— 2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.
8 First, I thank my God through Jesus Christ for all of you, because your faith is being reported all over the world. 9 God, whom I serve in my spirit in preaching the gospel of his Son, is my witness how constantly I remember you 10 in my prayers at all times; and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.
11 I long to see you so that I may impart to you some spiritual gift to make you strong— 12 that is, that you and I may be mutually encouraged by each other’s faith. 13 I do not want you to be unaware, brothers and sisters, that I planned many times to come to you (but have been prevented from doing so until now) in order that I might have a harvest among you, just as I have had among the other Gentiles.
14 I am obligated both to Greeks and non-Greeks, both to the wise and the foolish. 15 That is why I am so eager to preach the gospel also to you who are in Rome.
16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel, because it is the power of God that brings salvation to everyone who believes: first to the Jew, then to the Gentile. 17 For in the gospel the righteousness of God is revealed—a righteousness that is by faith from first to last, just as it is written: “The righteous will live by faith.”
18 The wrath of God is being revealed from heaven against all the godlessness and wickedness of people, who suppress the truth by their wickedness, 19 since what may be known about God is plain to them, because God has made it plain to them. 20 For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities—his eternal power and divine nature—have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.
21 For although they knew God, they neither glorified him as God nor gave thanks to him, but their thinking became futile and their foolish hearts were darkened. 22 Although they claimed to be wise, they became fools 23 and exchanged the glory of the immortal God for images made to look like a mortal human being and birds and animals and reptiles.
24 Therefore God gave them over in the sinful desires of their hearts to sexual impurity for the degrading of their bodies with one another.25 They exchanged the truth about God for a lie, and worshiped and served created things rather than the Creator—who is forever praised. Amen.
26 Because of this, God gave them over to shameful lusts. Even their women exchanged natural sexual relations for unnatural ones. 27 In the same way the men also abandoned natural relations with women and were inflamed with lust for one another. Men committed shameful acts with other men, and received in themselves the due penalty for their error.
28 Furthermore, just as they did not think it worthwhile to retain the knowledge of God, so God gave them over to a depraved mind, so that they do what ought not to be done. 29 They have become filled with every kind of wickedness, evil, greed and depravity. They are full of envy, murder, strife, deceit and malice. They are gossips, 30 slanderers, God-haters, insolent, arrogant and boastful; they invent ways of doing evil; they disobey their parents; 31 they have no understanding, no fidelity, no love, no mercy. 32 Although they know God’s righteous decree that those who do such things deserve death, they not only continue to do these very things but also approve of those who practice them.
Do you get treated well and end up with a fair exchange? Do you get disappointed and angry at the store if their policy doesn’t allow you to obtain a swap or a refund? I remember being pleasantly surprised once when I returned a rather large ‘green house’ to a hardware store, which after being used for a month or more, simply proved unsuitable for our climate. I obtained a full refund on the purchase.
Romans One is a huge Bible chapter full of rich Christian doctrine. I’m interested and I’m honing in on the exchanges mentioned or inferred here. Back in 1 Samuel Israel was a relatively young nation. This was the nation that was chosen by God to represent him to all other nations on earth. He was their king and they were to worship him and reflect his glory and character to those about them. He had saved them out of slavery into a land provided for them by God. But there is a point in this history in chapter 8 where they exchange worshipping God as their king for wanting a king of their own to rule them – just like the other nations. There follows a downward spiral as they choose the wrong type of king and have to live with the consequences. God judges their actions and then provides a king after his own heart in David. But there is the promise that another better king will come from his line, which is now fulfilled in the person of Jesus by the time this letter to the Romans has been written.
Romans One points to another exchange that we all have been involved in. While the Israelites exchanged worshipping God as their king for wanting a king of their own, Paul tells us that all of us have exchanged knowledge of his ‘eternal power and divine nature’ for images made to look like us. And so we worship ourselves and all things relating to ourselves – money, status, body image, individuality, relationships, education etc – instead of worshipping the one true God. This results in futile minds and dark hearts that end up demonstrating all kinds of evil including slander, gossip, deceit and greed.
What hope is there for us? Thankfully, another exchange – the ultimate exchange – has occurred by Jesus the true king on the cross. Here, our sinfulness was exchanged for his righteousness. Jesus the true king, the descendant of David, has the power to bring in the kingdom. Through his death and resurrection, he has called us to belong to him and be part of his kingdom by faith in him. What a glorious exchange! O what a saviour!
Head: Are you surprised at the link that Paul makes between gossiping and practising a form of idolatry – ie worshipping ourselves and not the one true God?
Heart: How can you express thankfulness today to Jesus for this great exchange that sees us loved and accepted by God and welcomed into his kingdom?
Hands: What can you do to better see examples of God’s eternal power and divine nature in creation?
Prayer: Dear Heavenly Father, I thank-you that Jesus came as the true king, a better king than David and an everlasting one to lovingly rule over us. I thank-you for the exchange that took place on the cross – our sinfulness for his righteousness and the great cost that he bore for us.
A song to listen to: Our Saviour & Our King
Tim Hewlett- Creek Road Presbyterian Church- Carina